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Published November 1Q07 


The occasion for this little volume is the celebration of the 
centenary ofWhittier's birth. The sketch of his life aims 
to present the chief formative influences which affected 
his career and determined the character of his poetry. 
The poem^ have been chosen with the intention of illus- 
trating^ first, the circumstances of Whittiers boyhood 
and the themes to which his poetic imagination naturally 
turned^ then the political and social struggle which en- 
grossed so mxiny of his years, and finally that mood of 
devout resting and waiting in which his long life closed. 





THE BAREFOOT BOY (1855) .... 37 

IN SCHOOL-DAYS (l870) 40 


(1866) 42 

MY PLAYMATE (i860) 54 



BLOSSOM (1854) 60 

THE SHIP-BUILDERS (1846) . , . . 65 
SKIPPER IRESON's RIDE (1857) . . . .68 

MAUD MULLER (l854) 72 

RANDOLPH OF ROANOKE (l833?) . . , .78 


THE PINE-TREE (l846) 87 

ICHABOD (1850) 89 


BARBARA FRIETCHIE (l863) .... 94 

[ vii ] 


LAUS DEo! (1865) 98 


SUPERIOR (1849) 100 

MY PSALM (1859) 104 

THE ETERNAL GOODNESS (l865) . . . .107 

AT LAST (1882) 110 


The frontispiece portrait of Whittier is from a miniature by Porter ^ 
painted about 1838. The portrait which faces page 36 is from an 
ambrotype taken about 1857. Both the miniature and ambrotype are 
in the possession of Samuel T. Pickard, Amesbury, Mass. 



The loneliness of the homestead in which 
Whittier was born, on December 17, 1807, has 
been described by the poet himself and em- 
phasized by his biographers. It is a solitary 
spot, even to-day. The farmhouse, built by 
the poet's great-great-grandfather in 1688, has 
been preserved by the affectionate solicitude 
of the Whittier Homestead Association. After 
the ravages of fire and of time it has been 
scrupulously restored. The old-fashioned gar- 
den, the lawn sloping to the brook, the very 
stepping-stones, the bee-hives, the bridle-post, 
the worn door-stone, the barn across the road, 
even the surrounding woods of pine and oak, 
are all, as nearly as may be, precisely what 
they were a hundred years ago. The shadow 
of Job's Hill still darkens the pleasant little 
stream and the narrow meadows of the home- 
stead. In the dusk of August evenings the 
deer come out to feed among the alders. The 
neighborhood remains sparsely settled. No 
[ 3 ] 


other house is within sight or hearing. Even 
in summer the rural quiet is scarcely broken, 
and the winter landscape makes an almost 
sombre impression of physical seclusion. 

The intellectual isolation of the poet's youth 
has likewise been impressed upon every reader 
of ''Snow-Bound." The books in that Quaker 
farmhouse were few and unattractive. The 
local newspaper came once a week. The teach- 
ers of the district school often knew scarcely 
more literature than their scholars. In the 
Friends' meeting-house at Amesbury, which 
the Whittiers faithfully attended, there was 
little of that intellectual stimulus which the 
sermons of an highly educated clergy then of- 
fered to the orthodox. The hour of the New 
England lyceum — that curiously effective 
though short-lived popular university — had 
not yet come. Yet our own generation, be- 
wildered by far too many newspapers, maga- 
zines, and books, is apt to forget that a few 
vitalizing ideas may more than make good the 
lack of printed matter. Whittier, who was to 
become the poet of Freedom, felt even in boy- 
hood, in that secluded valley of the Merrimac, 
[ 4 ] 


the pulse of the great European movement of 
emancipation which has transformed, and is 
still transforming, our modern world. "My 
father," he wrote afterwards, '*was an old- 
fashioned Democrat, and really believed in the 
Preamble of the Bill of Rights which reaffirmed 
the Declaration of Independence." In his 
poem ''Democracy" he reasserts his own and 
his father's faith : — 

" Oh, ideal of my boyhood's time ! 

The faith in which my father stood. 
Even when the sons of Lust and Crime 

Had stained thy peaceful courts with blood!" 

Not even the terrors of the French Revolution, 
it seems, could shake the silent John Whittier's 
steadfast belief in the natural rights of man. 
He entertained in the old farmhouse William 
Forster, the distinguished British advocate of 
abolition. He transmitted to his boys a hatred 
of "priests and kings" which befitted the de- 
scendants of forbears who had felt the weight 
of the displeasure of the Puritan theocracy. 
Not that the Whittiers were agitators: they 
were taciturn, self-respecting landholders, who 
— in the phrase which a famous American 
[ 5 ] 


poet, also of Quaker stock, afterward applied 
to himself — wore their hats as they pleased, 
indoors and out. But the Whittiers were so 
used to quiet independence that it never oc- 
curred to them to brag of it. 

This moral freedom of the New England 
Quakers, touched as it was with the humani- 
tarian passion of the later eighteenth century, 
was the poet's spiritual heritage. Judged by 
material standards, his lot was one of hard- 
ship. The Whittier farm was both rocky and 
swampy. Only the most stubborn toil could 
wring from it a livelihood. In the harsh labor 
of the farm the two boys helped as best they 
could, but John Greenleaf was slender and 
delicate, and suffered life-long injury by at- 
tempting tasks beyond his strength. The win- 
ters were like iron; underclothing was almost 
unknown ; the houses were poorly warmed 
and the churches not at all; and the food, 
in farmers' homes, lacked variety and was ill- 
cooked. Though the poet's body never recov- 
ered from these privations of his youth, the 
sufferings grew light when, in middle and later 
life, he weighed them against the happiness 
[ 6 ] 


of home affection and the endless pleasures 
of a boy's life out of doors. "The Barefoot 
Boy," ** Snow-Bound," and "In School-Days" 
tell the story more charmingly and with more 
truth than it can ever be told in prose. Few 
households are better known to American 
readers than the inmates of the ancient home- 
stead under Job's Hill. In the "Flemish pic- 
tures" of the gifted son we behold the reticent, 
laborious father, the benignant mother, — 
like Goethe's mother, a natural story-teller, 
— the gracious maiden aunt, the uncle with 
his "prodigies of rod and gun," the grave 
elder sister, and the brilliant Elizabeth. These, 
with the boyish schoolmaster and the "half- 
welcome" casual guest, are still grouped for 
us before the great hearth in the ample living- 
room, waiting 

"Until the old, rude-furnished room 
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom ;*' — 

a bloom that never fades from the memory 
of the born New Englander. Indeed, such was 
Whittier's fideUty to the impressions made 
upon him in his youth, so unerring was his 
instinct for what was truly characteristic of the 
[ 7 ] 


time and place, that these poems written about 
his boyhood portray, with a vividness rarely 
equalled in our literature, not only a mode of 
outward life, but a type of thought and feeling 
which possesses a permanent significance to all 
who would understand the American mind. 

It was easier for Whittier, after all, to pic- 
ture the East Haverhill homestead and its 
other inmates than to draw the portrait of 
himself in youth. We know that he was tall, 
frail, clear-colored, with those wonderful dark 
**Bachiler eyes" which now prove not to have 
been true Bachiler eyes at all. He was shy, — 
with a painful shyness which lasted throughout 
bis life, — but he was prouder than a cavalier. 
Consciousness of intellectual power came to 
him early; behind him was a long line of clean- 
lived farmers whose lips, although **to caution 
trained" by Quaker breeding, could speak 
decisively when there was need. Poverty had 
taught him that respect and sympathy for the 
poor which is one of the noblest forms of class- 
pride. It would have been hard to find in all 
New England a country boy whose mind was 
so perfectly prepared for the visitation of a 
[ 8 ] 


master-poet; and the poet, by some special 
gift of fortune, proved to be Robert Burns. 

The story of that reveaHng experience is 
familiar enough: how a *' pawky" wandering 
Scotchman sang "Bonny Doon" and "High- 
land Mary" and "Auld Lang Syne" over his 
mug of cider in the Whittier kitchen ; and then 
how Joshua Coffin, the boy's first schoolmaster, 
loaned him that copy of Burns which proved 
to be his passport to the wonder- world : — 

**I saw through all familiar things 
The romance underlying; 
The joys and griefs that plume the wings 
Of Fancy skyward flying.'* 

He had already scribbled verses upon the 
beam of his mother's loom, and like the boy 
Alfred Tennyson, only two years younger than 
himself, in the far-away Lincolnshire rectory, 
he had loved to fill his slate with rhymes. But 
from the moment that he read Burns this boy- 
ish delight in mere jingling sounds deepened 
into a sense that he, too, might become a poet. 
At sixteen he was composing with extraordi- 
nary fluency and with considerable skill. At 
eighteen he had written verses which his sister 
[ 9 ] 


Mary thought good enough to be printed, and 
a poem which she sent surreptitiously to 
William Lloyd Garrison, the twenty-year-old 
editor of the '*Newburyport Free Press," was 
accepted and published on June 8, 1826. This 
printing of "The Exile's Departure" in the 
poet's corner of a struggling local newspaper 
was a fateful event for Whittier. Everybody 
knows the instant and generous interest 
aroused in the youthful editor: how he drove 
out to East Haverhill, unearthed his bashful 
poet, — who was at that moment crawling 
under the barn after a stolen hen's nest, — and 
urged his father to give Greenleaf something 
better than a district schooling. **Sir, poetry 
will not give him bread!" exclaimed John 
Whittier, as sternly as Carlyle's father might 
have said it. But the upshot was that the gaunt 
lad got his term at the Haverhill Academy, 
paying his way by making shoes. 

He continued to write poems in astonishing 
profusion, taught school himself for a term 
in his native township, then took a final term 
at the Academy, and at twenty-one the ways 
were parting before his feet. A scheme for the 
[ 10 ] 


publication of his poems by subscription had 
failed. His health seemed too frail for effect- 
ive farm labor. His ignorance of the classics, 
as well as his lack of funds, barred the doors 
of a college course. He decided to earn his 
bread by journalism, and became at the end 
of his twenty-first year the editor of **The 
American Manufacturer" in Boston. The 
choice was significant. For three years he 
had been heralded as an unlettered "poet," 
a sort of local phenomenon who was possibly 
destined, as Garrison had prophesied, to rank 
"among the bards of his country." Yet here 
he was, turning, with a Yankee's shrewd facil- 
ity, to politics and affairs. 

He was led, no doubt, — as in the more 
momentous crisis of 1833, when he obeyed 
Garrison's call and turned Abolitionist, — by 
an instinct deeper than any conscious analysis 
of his powers. He knew that he had what 
he called a "knack of rhyming," and he had 
learned from Burns to find material for poetry 
all about him. Yet he possessed at this time 
but a scanty equipment for the long road 
which a poet must travel. His physical endow- 

[ 11 ] 


ment was impoverished. That full-blooded 
life of the senses, which taught Burns and 
Goethe at fourteen such secrets of human rap- 
ture and dismay, was impossible for the 
Quaker stripling. He was color-blind. His ear 
barely recognized a tune. The bodily sensa- 
tions of odor, taste, and touch are scarcely to 
be felt in his poetry. He was indeed **no 
Greek," as Whitman said of him long after- 
ward; and at the outset of his career, as at its 
close, he cared but little for literature as an art. 
To conceive of any of the arts as a religion, or 
as an embodiment, for sense perception, of the 
highest potencies of the human spirit, would 
have seemed almost blasphemous to this fol- 
lower of the "inward light." He wrote to Lucy 
Hooper that a long poem, "unless consecrated 
to the sacred interests of religion and humanity, 
would be a criminal waste of life." Parthenon 
and Pantheon were in his eyes less significant 
and memorable than Pennsylvania Hall, the 
Abolitionist headquarters in Philadelphia. In 
an editorial in "The Freeman" in 1838, pre- 
facing a reprint of "A Psalm of Life," which 
had just been published in the New York 

[ n ] 


"Knickerbocker," \Miittier declared: **It is 
very seldom that we find an article of poetry 
so full of excellent philosophy and common 
SENSE as the following. We know not who 
the author may be, but he or she is no common 
man or woman. These nine simple verses are 
worth more than all the dreams of Shelley, and 
Keats, and Wordsworth. They are ahve and 
vigorous with the spirit of the day in which we 
live — the moral steam enginery of an age of 

One who could utter this amazing verdict 
upon the ** Psalm of Life" certainly seems less 
fitted for poetry than for journalism and poli- 
tics : and indeed WTiittier's aptitude for affairs, 
even at twenty-one, was extraordinary. His 
political editorials for the '* Manufacturer" — 
a Clay journal which advocated a protective 
tariff — were skilfully written from the first. 
Subsequent editorial engagements in Haver- 
hill, Hartford, and Philadelphia, although ren- 
dered brief by his wretched health, neverthe- 
less widened his acquaintance and increased 
his self-confidence. His judgment was canny. 
His knowledge of local conditions, at first in 
[ 13 ] 


his native town and county, and afterward 
throughout New England and the Eastern 
States, was singularly exact. He seemed to 
perceive, as by some actual visualization, how 
people were thinking and feeling in Massa- 
chusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and other 
communities which he had observed at first 
hand; and he employed a correspondingly 
accurate and as it were topographical imagina- 
tion when he wrote of affairs in Kansas, Paris, 
or Italy. 

Men were never abstractions to him. They 
were concrete persons, with ambitions to be 
tempted, generosities to be wakened, weak- 
nesses to be utilized. His own county of Essex 
was then, as now, noted for the adroitness of its 
politicians, but at twenty-five John Greenleaf 
Whittier could beat the best of them at their 
own game. He was tireless in personal persua- 
sion, in secret correspondence, in fighting fire 
with fire. He read Burke, and was prompt to 
apply Burke's principle : ** TMien bad men com- 
bine, the good should associate." A Whig him- 
self until the formation of the Liberty party, he 
was willing, as his friend Garrison was not, to 
[ 14 ] 


compromise on non-essentials for the sake of 
bringing things to pass. The hand of a master 
is revealed in his published letters to Caleb 
Gushing and to Henry Clay. It was he who 
devised the coalitions which sent Cushing, the 
Whig, and Rantoul, the Democrat, to Con- 
gress, which made Boutwell governor of Massa- 
chusetts and sent Sumner to the United States 
Senate. When Sumner was struck down in the 
Senate chamber and his indignant constituents 
held mass meetings to voice their horror, Whit- 
tier was self -controlled enough to declare: "It 
seems to me to be no time for the indulgence of 
mere emotions. . . . The North is not united 
for freedom as the South is for slavery. . . . 
We must forget, forgive, and unite." No ut- 
terance could be more characteristic of the 
man. In public affairs he knew what he 
wanted to compass, and he was as willing to 
lobby or to trade votes as to write an editorial 
or a lyric, provided the good cause could be 
thereby made to prosper. Extremists thought 
that he yielded to considerations of mere ex- 
pediency; but his was rather the versatility of 
the born political fighter, who can use more 
[ 15 ] 


weapons than one. Underneath all questions of 
policy, lay his inherited democratic sympathy 
with the ordinary man. At the height of his fame 
he loved to sit upon a cracker barrel in the gro- 
cery store at Amesbury, and talk politics. **I 
am a man,'' he wrote to his biographer Under- 
wood in 1883, *'and not a mere verse-maker." 
This glimpse at the later revelations of his 
character is essential to an understanding of 
the spiritual crisis which confronted him in 
1833, when he was only twenty-six. He loved 
power, and had already exercised it in the con- 
genial field of politics. The road to preferment 
lay that way. It is true that he had continued 
to compose abundantly, both in prose and in 
verse. His writings were favorably noticed. 
Yet he saw no career for himself as a man of 
letters. "I have done with poetry and litera- 
ture," he wrote to a friend in 1832. Repeated 
disappointments in love had darkened his 
spirit. The death of his father had forced him 
back to the old farm to support his mother and 
sisters. Black care sat very close behind him. 
Discouraged, lonely, with ambitions ungrati- 
fied and great powers of which he was but half 
[ 16 ], 


aware, he paused, like some knight who had 
lost his way in an enchanted forest. Then 
blew the clear unmistakable trumpet call which 
broke the spell and summoned him to action. 
Although an anti-slavery man by native in- 
stinct, Whittier had never given his adherence 
to the sect of Abolitionists. Now came a letter 
from Garrison (March 22, 1833): "My bro- 
ther, there are upwards of two million of our 
countrymen who are doomed to the most hor- 
rible servitude which ever cursed our race and 
blackened the page of history. There are one 
hundred thousand of their offspring kidnapped 
annually from their birth. The southern por- 
tion of our country is going down to destruc- 
tion, physically and morally, with a swift 
descent, carrying other portions with her. 
This, then, is a time for the philanthropist — 
any friend of his country, to put forth his ener- 
gies, in order to let the oppressed go free, and 
sustain the republic. The cause is worthy of 
Gabriel — yea, the God of hosts places him- 
self at its head. Whittier, enlist! Your 
talents, zeal, influence — all are needed." * 

» Carpenter's Whittier, p. 118. 
[ 17 ] 


The spirit of Burns, years before, had whis- 
pered to the boy that he, too, had the poet-soul, 
yet facile versifying was all that had seemed to 
come of it, and the young man had turned 
to politics. Now the living voice of Garrison 
called him away from partisan ambitions to 
enlist in a doubtful and perilous measure of 
moral reform. He obeyed, and — so strange 
are the mysteries of personality — found in that 
new ser\'ice to humanity not only the inspira- 
tion which made him a genuine poet, but the 
popular recognition which set the seal upon his 

The immediate cost of obedience to his con- 
science was heavy. The generation of Ameri- 
cans born since the Civil War look back upon 
the Abolitionists as victors after thirty years 
of agitation, as the dictators of national policy. 
Their statues are in public places. Their the- 
ories have prevailed. But in the early thirties 
they suffered such ostracism and even martyr- 
dom as only a few historical students now 
realize. Churches, colleges, and courts were 
against them, for reasons which were adequate 
enough. They were dangerous members of 
[ 18 ] 


society. To-day we endeavor to exclude 
Anarchists from American soil; the leading 
Abolitionists, like the Russian Revolutionists 
of the present hour, preached Anarchy in the 
name of Humanity. ^Miittier, trained to quiet- 
ism, non-resistance, and respect for law, and 
skilled as he had become in feeling the pulse 
of public opinion, knew perfectly well what 
company he was henceforth to keep. To be an 
active AboHtionist was to join the outcasts. 

His first act of allegiance was to write and 
publish at his own expense a pamphlet entitled 
"Justice and Expediency," which pleaded for 
immediate emancipation by peaceful means. 
In December, 1833, he was a delegate from 
Massachusetts at the founding in Philadelphia 
of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Whit- 
tier was the youngest member. Thirty years 
later he wrote to Garrison, who had been his 
companion upon that memorable journey: 
"I am not insensible to literary reputation. I 
love, perhaps too well, the praise and good-will 
of my fellow-men; but I set a higher value on 
my name as appended to the Anti-Slavery 
Declaration of 1833 than on the title-page of 
[ 19 ] 


any book." No words could better illustrate 
his devotion to the cause of the slave. Yet he 
did not surrender his right of private judgment 
as to the best means to be employed. Garrison 
lost patience, ere long, with Whittier's willing- 
ness to further the cause by compromise and 
concession, and the friends parted, to come 
together again in later years. The movement 
for emancipation needed both men and both 
methods ; but Whittier's method — less heroic 
than Garrison's, less intolerant than Sumner's, 
less virulent than that of Wendell Phillips — 
was like Abraham Lincoln's in its patience, 
shrewdness, and sympathy. 

Whittier faced hostile mobs with perfect 
courage, and with a touch of the humor which 
is rarely revealed in his writings. When the 
Philadelphia rioters looted and burned Penn- 
sylvania Hall, he disguised himself in a wig 
and long white overcoat, mingled with the 
mob, and saved his own editorial papers. He 
brought not only courage and finesse, but 
high journalistic skill, to the service of the 
Abolitionists. His pamphlets, his editorials 
in the ** Freeman," "Middlesex Standard," 
[ 20 ] 


** National Era," and other newspapers, were 
trenchant, caustic, and far-sighted. InvaHdism 
and the care of his mother's family kept him 
almost constantly at Amesbury, whither he 
had removed after the sale of his birthplace 
in 1836. But Whittier's was no home-keeping 
mind, and there is scarcely a political event of 
importance, either in this country or abroad, 
which is not reflected in his prose and verse 
produced during the thirty years ending with 
the close of the Ci\il War. 

Yet his chief function during the long anti- 
slavery struggle was that of chartered poet 
to the cause. No sooner had he abandoned 
his dream of personal advancement than the 
B}Tonic melancholy, the weak imitations of 
Scott, and the echoes of Mrs. Fehcia Hemans 
disappear from his verse. He was studying the 
prose of Milton and Burke, those organ-voices 
of English liberty. From Burns and Byron he 
now caught only the passion for justice and the 
common rights of all. He forgot himself. He 
forgot, for the time being, those pleasant themes 
of New England legend and history, which 
earlier and later touched his meditative fancy. 
[ 21 ] 


The cause of negro emancipation in America 
— to his mind only one phase of the struggle 
for a wider human freedom everywhere — 
stirred and deepened his whole nature. There 
is scarcely a type of political and social verse 
which is not represented in his work during 
this period. He wrote personal lyrics in praise 
of living leaders, and mournful salutes to the 
dead; hymns to be sung in churches, and cam- 
paign songs for the town hall. The touch- 
ing Hues to ** Randolph of Roanoke" are a 
knightly tribute to an opponent. The generous 
and noble *'Lost Occasion" was written after 
Webster's death to supplement, rather than to 
retract, the terrific *'Ichabod" addressed to 
Webster after his defence of the Fugitive Slave 
Law. Not since Burns had any poet dared 
pillory the clergy in such derisive and indig- 
nant strains as marked '' Clerical Oppressors," 
**The Pastoral Letter," and ''A Sabbath 
Scene." The selfishness of commercialism, 
and its "paltry pedler cries" which exalt 
"banks" and "tariffs" above the man, have 
never been arraigned more powerfully than 
in "The Pine-Tree" and "Moloch in State 
[ 22 ] 


Street." Such poems are class and party verse 
of the purest type. 

Whittier's direct contact with the soil and 
his intense interest in localities made him 
also an unequalled interpreter of sectional 
feeling. "Massachusetts to Virginia" is per- 
haps the finest example of this sort of politi- 
cal verse, but he wrote many similar poems 
hardly less striking; and such was the flexi- 
bility of Whittier's imagination when inspired 
by the common cause that he expressed not 
only the mood of the New England but also 
of the Middle States, and of that '*Wild 
West," as he called it, which was so soon 
to combine with his "roused North." Much 
of this political poetry was, in the nature 
of the case, only a sort of rhymed oratory, 
scarcely differing, save in rhetorical and metri- 
cal structure, from the speeches of Beecher 
and Wendell Phillips. Sometimes it was 
rhymed journalism, of the kind which Greeley 
was using in his sturdy iterative editorials. 
Much of it, no doubt, has already met the 
oblivion which attends most pamphlets or 
stanzas "for the times." Harshness of tone, 
[ 23 ] 


over-severity in judgment of men and mea- 
sures, diffuseness of style, a faulty ear for 
rhymes, are frequently in evidence. Yet these 
blemishes scarcely affected the immediate 
value of Whittier's verse for controversial pur- 
poses. Its faults of taste and form were rightly 
forgotten in its communicative energy of emo- 
tion, its lambent scorn of evil things, its 
prophet-like exaltation. Long before armed 
conflict ended the debate, Whittier's poetry 
had won the attention not only of his section, 
but of the entire North, and as the conflict 
proceeded his verse sounded more and more 
clearly that national note which had been the 
burden of the great and maligned Webster's 
speeches for union. Only now it was to be a 
union redeemed. We must be "first pure, then 
peaceable," the Quaker poet had maintained, 
and the fine close of his ballad "Barbara Friet- 
chie," like his " Laus Deo" which "sang itself" 
in church while the bells were ringing to cele- 
brate the passing of slavery, is echoed to-day 
in the hearts of true Americans everywhere. 

To study the chronological order of his 
poems from "The Exile's Departure," written 
[ 24 ] 


in 1825, to ** Snow-Bound," written just forty 
years later, is to watch the steady broadening 
and clarifying of ^^^littie^'s spirit. He found 
in the community of emotion wrought by a 
moral and political crisis the secret of com- 
mand over his own nature and over the modes 
of poetic expression. By 1840 the worst hour 
of persecution for the AboHtionists was already 
past. There were no more mobs for Whittier 
to face. He remained, for the most part, 
quietly at Amesbury. In 1845 he began to 
contribute the spirited ** Songs of Labor" to 
the ** Democratic Re\dew," thus antedating 
\Miitman by ten years in celebrating the 
American workingman. By 1847, in the 
"Proem" written to introduce the first general 
collection of his poems, he has already learned 
to regard himself as a singer whose nature 
incHned- him to the '*old melodious lays" of 
Spenser and Sidney, although his lot had 
fallen in stormy times : — 

"The rigor of a frozen clime. 
The harshness of an untaught ear, 

The jarring words of one whose rhyme 
Beat often Labor's hurried time, 
Or Duty's rugged march through storm and strife, are here." 
[ 25 ] 


He does not regret his choice, but there is 
some yearning over the lost Arcady. In the 
enforced leisure of his frequent invahdism 
Whittier read very widely, and legend and 
dreamy fancy alternate in his verse with 
satirical invective and eloquent humanitarian- 
ism. The tragic "Ichabod" and the mordant 
irony of "A Sabbath Scene" are followed by 
the charming lines "To My Old Schoolmas- 
ter." The poem on Burns, so fresh with **the 
dews of boyhood's morning," and the ballad 
of **Maud Muller," where the pathos of our 
human ** might have been" is expressed with 
such artless adequacy, date from the thrilling 
year of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. The Kansas 
emigrants were actually singing 

"We cross the prairie as of old 
The Pilgrims crossed the sea" 

while Whittier was writing "The Barefoot 
Boy" in 1855. The "Burial of Barber" is suc- 
ceeded by "Mary Garvin." After the storm, 
come the bird voices. 

When "The Atlantic Monthly" was founded 
in 1857, Whittier contributed to its early num- 
bers, not his timely and impassioned "Moloch 
[ 26 ] 


in State Street" and **Le Maniis du Cvgne," 
but rather **The Gift of Tritemius,'* "Skipper 
Ireson's Ride,'' and '* Telling the Bees/* In 
other words, it was as a man of letters and 
not as a controversiahst that he joined this 
distinguished companv of fellow contributors. 
Whittier was just turning fiftv, in that year. 
The hair was thin above his noticeably high 
forehead ; his face and figure spare as in 
youth; his deep-set dark eyes still aglow; the 
lips cJean-shaven, nervous, resolute. Like 
another invaUd, he was destined to long life, 
but of the thirtv-five vears then remaining to 
him, the succeeding ten were the most fruit- 
ful. Aside from those poems, already men- 
tioned, inspired by the course and outcome of 
the War for the Union, his most characteristic 
productions during this decade are suggested 
by such titles as **My Psalm,'' ''My Play- 
mate,'' *'The River Path," "Cobbler Keezar's 
Vision.'* "Mountain Pictures," ** Andrew Ryk- 
man's Prayer," and "The Eternal (roodness." 
These are grave, sweet, quiet poems, devout 
and consolatory. 

Whittier's mother died in ISoT. and his 
[ ^" ] 


favorite sister, the gifted Elizabeth, in 1864, 
thus lea^ing the Amesbury house desolate. 
The poet's memories of his birthplace, only 
six miles away, but now in other hands, grew 
increasingly tender in his new loneliness, and 
he set himself to sketch, in an idyl longer 
than it was his wont to write, the scenes and 
persons dearest to his boyhood. '*A homely 
picture of old New England homes," he called 
it in a note to Fields, his friendly publisher. 
The poem was **Snow-Bound," and it proved 
at once to be what it has since remained, the 
most popular of his productions; notable, not 
so much for sensuous beauty or for any fresh 
range of thought, as for its vividness, its fidel- 
ity of homely detail, its unerring feeling for 
the sentiment of the hearthside. 

The surprising profits of ** Snow-Bound" 
made TMiittier — to whom, as he himself said, 
the doors of magazines and publishing houses 
had been shut for twenty years of his life — 
a well-to-do man henceforward. He never 
married. But he prided himself upon never 
losing a friend, and many homes were gra- 
ciously offered to him in his old age. After 
[ 28 ] 


the marriage of his niece in 1876, he became 
for a large part of each year the guest of his 
cousins at Oak Kiioll, Danvers. In this stately 
and beautiful home, and in many friendly 
houses in Boston, he met frequently some of 
the best men and women of his time. His rela- 
tions with the chief American authors of his 
day were cordial, although scarcely intimate. 
Most of them gathered in honor of his seven- 
tieth birthday at a dinner given by the pub- 
lishers of '*The Atlantic," and the subsequent 
anniversaries of his birth were very generally 
noticed. But his life was essentially a solitary 
one. Professor Carpenter has noted in his 
admirable study of WTiittier that his most 
familiar acquaintances and correspondents, in 
his later life, were women. **In old age his was 
the point of view, the theory of Hfe, of the 
woman of gentle tastes, literary interests, and 
religious feeling. The best accounts of his 
later life are those of Mrs. Claflin and Mrs. 
Fields, in whose houses he was often a guest; 
and they have much to say of his sincere friend- 
liness and quiet talk, his shy avoidance of 
notoriety or even of a large group of people, 
[ 29 ] 


his keen sense of humor, his tales of his youth, 
his quaintly serious comments on life, his sud- 
den comings and goings as inclination moved, 
and of the rare occasions when, deeply moved, 
he spoke of the great issues of religion with 
beautiful earnestness and simple faith. And 
it is pleasant to think of this farmer's lad, who 
had lived for forty years in all but poverty for 
the love of God and his fellows, taking an 
innocent delight in the luxury of great houses 
and in the sheltered life of those protected 
from hardship and privation. After his long 
warfare this was a just reward." ^ 

After the publication of "Snow-Bound" in 
1866, Whittier composed nearly two hundred 
poems. They celebrate some of his friend- 
ships, and indicate the variety of his reading 
and his interest in progress both in this coun- 
try and in Europe. They describe, with loving 
accuracy, the mountains, streams, and shore 
of New Hampshire, where he usually made 
his summer pilgrimages. But few of these later 
poems, pleasant reading as they are, affect 
materially one's estimate of Whittier's poetic 

» Carpenter's Whittier, p. 287. 
[ 30 ] 


powers. His real work was done. Here and 
there, and notably in the idyl "The Pennsyl- 
vania Pilgrim," there is a grace and ripeness 
which indicate the Indian Summer of his art, 
with lovely lines written for the "wise angels" 
rather than for discordant men. One thinks 
with a sigh of his description of himself in " The 
Tent on the Beach": — 

"And one there was, a dreamer born, 
Who, with a mission to fulfil, 
Had left the Muses' haunts to turn 
The crank of an opinion-mill." 

But regrets that he could not have lingered 
in dream-land are doubly futile; for it was the 
opinion-mill, after all, that made Whittier a 
poet. Life taught him deeper secrets than 
bookish ease could ever have imparted. "The 
simple fact is," he wrote to E. L. Godkin, 
"that I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the 
Divine Providence that so early called my at- 
tention to the great interests of humanity, 
saving me from the poor ambitions and miser- 
able jealousies of a selfish pursuit of literary 
reputation." These words might have been 
written by one of the saints, and such, in 
[ 31 ] 


very truth, was \Miittier. Poverty, chastity, and 
obedience were his portion in this life. By the 
road of renunciation he entered into his spirit- 
ual kingdom. 

He was not one of the royally endowed, far- 
shining, " m}Tiad-minded " poets. He was rus- 
tic, provincial; a man of his place and time in 
America. It is doubtful if European readers 
will ever find him richly suggestive, as they 
have found Emerson, Poe, and \Miitman. But 
he had a tenacious hold upon certain realities : 
first, upon the soil of New England, of whose 
history and legend he became such a sympa- 
thetic interpreter; next, upon **the good old 
cause" of freedom, not only in his own coun- 
try but in all places where the age-long and 
still but half -won battle was being waged; and 
finally, upon some permanent objects of hu- 
man emotion, — the hill-top, shore and sky, 
the fireside, the troubled heart that seeks rest 
in God. \Miittier's poetry has revealed to 
countless readers the patient continuity of hu- 
man life, its fundamental unity, and the ulti- 
mate peace that hushes its discords. The utter 
simplicity of his Quaker's creed has helped 
[ 32 ] 


him to interpret the religious mood of a gen- 
eration which has grown impatient of formal 
doctrine. His hymns are sung by almost every 
body of Christians, the world over. It is un- 
likely that the plain old man who passed 
quietly away in a New Hampshire village on 
September 7, 189:2, aged eighty-five, will ever 
be reckoned one of the world-poets. But he 
was, in the best sense of the word, a world's- 
man in heart and in action, a sincere and noble 
soul who hated whatever was evil and helped 
to make the good prevail; and his verse, fiery 
and tender and unfeigned, will long be cher- 
ished by his countrymen. 




Blessings on thee, little man, 
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan! 
With thy turned-up pantaloons, 
And thy merry whistled tunes; 
With thy red lip, redder still 
Kissed by strawberries on the hill; 
With the sunshine on thy face, 
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace; 
From my heart I give thee joy, — » 
I was once a barefoot boy! 
Prince thou art, — the grown-up man 
Only is republican. 
Let the million-dollared ride! 
Barefoot, trudging at his side, 
Thou hast more than he can buy 
In the reach of ear and eye, — 
Outward sunshine, inward joy: 
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy! 

Oh for boyhood's painless play. 
Sleep that wakes in laughing day. 
Health that mocks the doctor's rules, 
Knowledge never learned of schools, 
Of the wild bee's morning chase. 
Of the wild-flower's time and place, 
■[ 37 ] 


Flight of fowl and habitude 
Of the tenants of the wood; 
How the tortoise bears his shell, 
How the woodchuck digs his cell, 
And the ground-mole sinks his well; 
How the robin feeds her young, 
How the oriole's nest is hung; 
Where the whitest lilies blow, 
Where the freshest berries grow. 
Where the ground-nut trails its vine, 
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine; 
Of the black wasp's cunning way. 
Mason of his walls of clay. 
And the architectural plans 
Of gray hornet artisans! 
For, eschewing books and tasks. 
Nature answers all he asks; 
Hand in hand with her he walks. 
Face to face with her he talks. 
Part and parcel of her joy, — 
Blessings on the barefoot boy! 

Oh for boyhood's time of June, 
Crowding years in one brief moon. 
When all things I heard or saw. 
Me, their master, waited for. 
I was rich in flowers and trees. 
Humming-birds and honey-bees; 
For my sport the squirrel played, 
Plied the snouted mole his spade; 
[ 38 ] 


For my taste the blackberry cone 
Purpled over hedge and stone; 
Laughed the brook for my delight 
Through the day and through the night. 
Whispering at the garden wall, 
Talked with me from fall to fall; 
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond. 
Mine the walnut slopes beyond, 
Mine, on bending orchard trees, 
Apples of Hesperides! 
Still as my horizon grew. 
Larger grew my riches too; 
All the world I saw or knew 
Seemed a complex Chinese toy. 
Fashioned for a barefoot boy! 

Oh for festal dainties spread, 
Like my bowl of milk and bread; 
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood, 
On the door-stone, gray and rude! 
O'er me, like a regal tent, 
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent, 
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold. 
Looped in many a wind-swung fold; 
WTiile for music came the play 
Of the pied frogs' orchestra; 
And, to light the noisy choir. 
Lit the fly his lamp of fire. 
I was monarch: pomp and joy 
Waited on the barefoot boy! 
[ 39 ] 


Cheerily, then, my little man, 
Live and laugh, as boyhood can! 
Though the flinty slopes be hard, 
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward, 
Even' morn shall lead thee through 
Fresh baptisms of the dew; 
Every evening from thy feet 
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat: 
All too soon these feet must hide 
In the prison cells of pride, 
Lose the freedom of the sod, 
Like a colt's for work be shod, 
Made to tread the mills of toil. 
Up and down in ceaseless moil: 
Happy if their track be found 
Never on forbidden ground; 
Happy if they sink not in 
Quick and treacherous sands of sin. 
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy. 
Ere it passes, barefoot boy! 


Still sits the school-house by the road, 

A ragged beggar sleeping; 
Around it still the sumachs grow, 

And blackberriy'-vines are creeping. 

Within, the master's desk is seen. 
Deep scarred by raps official; 
[ 40 ] 


The warping floor, the battered seats, 
The jack-knife's can'ed initial; 

The charcoal frescos on its wall; 

Its door's worn sill, betraying 
The feet that, creeping slow to school. 

Went storming out to playing! 

Long years ago a winter sun 

Shone over it at setting; 
Lit up its western window-panes, 

And low eaves' icy fretting. 

It touched the tangled golden curls, 
And brown eyes full of grieving, 

Of one who still her steps delayed 
\Mien all the school were leaving. 

For near her stood the httle boy 

Her childish favor singled: 
His cap pulled low upon a face 

\Miere pride and shame were mingled. 

Pushing with restless feet the snow 
To right and left, he lingered; — 

As restlessly her tiny hands 

The blue-checked apron fingered. 

He saw her lift her eyes; he felt 
The soft hand's Hght caressing, 

[ ^1 ] 


And heard the tremble of her voice. 
As if a fault confessing. 

" I 'm sorry that I spelt the word : 
I hate to go above you, 
Because," — the brown eyes lower fell, 
"Because, you see, I love you!" 

Still memory to a gray-haired man 
That sweet child-face is showing. 

Dear girl! the grasses on her grave 
Have forty years been growing! 

He lives to learn, in life's hard school. 
How few who pass above him 

Lament their triumph and his loss, 
Like her, — because they love him. 


(from "snow-bound"^) 

All day the gusty north-wind bore 
The loosening drift its breath before; 
Low circling round its southern zone. 
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone. 

* For the circumstances in which Snow-Bound was written, see the 
prefatory memoir. The passage here given begins with the second 
night of the storm. 

[ 42 ] 


No church-bell lent its Christian tone 
To the savage air, no social smoke 
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak. 
A solitude made more intense 
By drearj^-voiced elements, 
The shrieking of the mindless wind. 
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind, 
And on the glass the unmeaning beat 
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet. 
Beyond the circle of our hearth 
No welcome sound of toil or mirth 
Unbound the spell, and testified 
Of human life and thought outside. 
We minded that the sharpest ear 
The buried brooklet could not hear. 
The music of whose hquid lip 
Had been to us companionship. 
And, in our lonely life, had grown 
To have an almost human tone. 

As night drew on, and, from the crest 
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west, 
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank 
From sight beneath the smothering bank, 
We piled, with care, our nightly stack 
Of wood against the chimney-back, — 
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick, 
And on its top the stout back-stick; 
The knotty forestick laid apart. 
And filled between with curious art 
[ 43 ] 


The ragged brush; then, hovering near. 
We watched the first red blaze appear, 
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam 
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam, 
Until the old, rude-furnished room 
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom; 
While radiant with a mimic flame 
Outside the sparkling drift became, 
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree 
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free. 
The crane and pendent trammels showed. 
The Turks' heads on the andirons glowed; 
While childish fancy, prompt to tell 
The meaning of the miracle. 
Whispered the old rhyme: *' Under the tree. 
When fire, outdoors hums merrily. 
There the witches are making tea" 

The moon above the eastern wood 
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood 
Transfigured in the silver flood. 
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen, 
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine 
Took shadow, or the sombre green 
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black 
Against the whiteness at their back. 
For such a world and such a night 
Most fitting that unwarming light, 
Which only seemed where'er it fell 
To make the coldness visible. 
[ 44 ] 


Shut in from all the world without, 
We sat the clean-winged hearth about, 
Content to let the north-wind roar 
In baffled rage at pane and door. 
While the red logs before us beat 
The frost-line back with tropic heat; 
And ever, when a louder blast 
Shook beam and rafter as it passed. 
The merrier up its roaring draught 
The great throat of the chimney laughed; 
The house-dog on his paws outspread 
Laid to the fire his drowsy head. 
The cat's dark silhouette on the wall 
A couchant tiger's seemed to fall; 
And, for the winter fireside meet. 
Between the andirons' straddling feet, 
The mug of cider simmered slow. 
The apples sputtered in a row, 
And, close at hand, the basket stood 
With nuts from brown October's wood. 

What matter how the night behaved ? 
What matter how the north- wind raved ? 
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow 
Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow. 
O Time and Change ! — with hair as gray 
As was my sire's that winter day. 
How strange it seems, with so much gone 
Of life and love, to still live on! 
Ah, brother! only I and thou 
[ 45 ] 


Are left of all that circle now, — 
The dear home faces whereupon 
That fitful firelight paled and shone. 
Henceforward, listen as we will. 
The voices of that hearth are still; 
Look where we may, the wide earth o'er. 
Those lighted faces smile no more. 
We tread the paths their feet have worn, 

We sit beneath their orchard trees. 

We hear, like them, the hum of bees 
And rustle of the bladed corn; 
We turn the pages that they read, 

Their written words we linger o'er. 
But in the sun they cast no shade. 
No voice is heard, no sign is made, 

No step is on the conscious floor! 
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust, 
(Since He who knows our need is just,) 
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must. 
Alas for him who never sees 
The stars shine through his cypress-trees! 
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away. 
Nor looks to see the breaking day 
Across the mournful marbles play! 
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith. 

The truth to flesh and sense unknown. 
That Life is ever lord of Death, 

And Love can never lose its own! 

[ 46 ] 


We sped the time with stories old, 
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told. 
Or stammered from our school-book lore 
"The Chief of Gambia's golden shore." 
How often since, when all the land 
Was clay in Slavery's shaping hand, 
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred 
The languorous sin-sick air, I heard: 
" Does not the voice of reason cry. 

Claim the first right which Nature gave^ 
From the red scourge of bondage fly. 

Nor deign to live a burdened slave I " 
Our father rode again his ride 
On Memphremagog's wooded side; 
Sat down again to moose and samp 
In trapper's hut and Indian camp; 
Lived o'er the old idyllic ease 
Beneath St. Fran9ois' hemlock-trees; 
Again for him the moonlight shone 
On Norman cap and bodiced zone; 
Again he heard the violin play 
Which led the village dance away. 
And mingled in its merry whirl 
The grandam and the laughing girl. 
Or, nearer home, our steps he led 
Where Salisbury's level marshes spread 

Mile- wide as flies the laden bee; 
Where merry mowers, hale and strong. 
Swept, sc}i;he on sc}i;he, their swaths along 

The low green prairies of the sea. 
[ 47 ] 


We shared the fishing off Boar's Head, 
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals 
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals; 
The chowder on the sand-beach made. 
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot. 
With spoons of clam-shell from the pot. 
We heard the tales of witchcraft old. 
And dream and sign and marvel told 
To sleepy listeners as they lay 
Stretched idly on the salted hay. 
Adrift along the winding shores, 
T\Tien favoring breezes deigned to blow 
The square sail of the gundelow 
And idle lay the useless oars. 

Our mother, while she turned her wheel 
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel. 
Told how the Indian hordes came down 
At midnight on Cocheco town, 
And how her own great-uncle bore 
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore. 
Recalling, in her fitting phrase. 
So rich and picturesque and free, 
(The common unrhymed poetry 
Of simple life and country ways,) 
The story of her early days, — 
She made us welcome to her home; 
Old hearths grew wide to give us room; 
We stole with her a frightened look 
At the gray wizard's conjuring-book, 
[ 48 ] 


The fame whereof went far and wide 
Through all the simple country side; 
We heard the hawks at twilight play, 
The boat-hom on Piscataqua, 
The loon's weird laughter far away; 
Vse fished her little trout-brook, knew 
What flowers in wood and meadow grew, 
\Miat sunny hillsides autumn-brown 
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down. 
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay 
The ducks' black squadron anchored lay. 
And heard the wild-geese calling loud 
Beneath the gray November cloud. 

Then, haply, with a look more grave, 
And soberer tone, some tale she gave 
From painful Sewel's ancient tome, 
Beloved in every Quaker home. 
Of faith fire-winged by mart}Tdom, 
Or Chalkley's Journal, old and quaint, — 
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint I — 
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed. 
And water-butt and bread-cask failed. 
And cruel, hungrv eyes pursued 
His portly presence mad for food, 
With dark hints muttered under breath 
Of casting lots for life or death. 
Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies, 
To be himself the sacrifice. 
Then, suddenlv, as if to save 
' [ 49 ] 


The good man from his living grave, 
A ripple on the water grew, 
A school of porpoise flashed in view. 
"Take, eat," he said, "and be content; 
These fishes in my stead are sent 
By Him who gave the tangled ram 
To spare the child of Abraham." 

Our uncle, innocent of books, 
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks, 
The ancient teachers never dumb 
Of Nature's unhoused lyceum. 
In moons and tides and weather wise, 
He read the clouds as prophecies. 
And foul or fair could well divine, 
By many an occult hint and sign, 
Holding the cunning-warded keys 
To all the woodcraft mysteries; 
Himself to Nature's heart so near 
That all her voices in his ear 
Of beast or bird had meanings clear. 
Like Apollonius of old, 
Who knew the tales the sparrows told, 
Or Hermes who interpreted 
What the sage cranes of Nilus said; 
A simple, guileless, childlike man. 
Content to live where life began; 
Strong only on his native grounds. 
The little world of sights and sounds 
Whose girdle was the parish bounds, 
[ 50 ] 


"Whereof his fondly partial pride 

The common features magnified, 

As Surrey hills to mountains grew 

In White of Selbome's loving view, — 

He told how teal and loon he shot. 

And how the eagle's eggs he got, 

The feats on pond and river done. 

The prodigies of rod and gun; 

Till, warming with the tales he told. 

Forgotten was the outside cold. 

The bitter wind unheeded blew. 

From ripening corn the pigeons flew. 

The partridge drummed i' the wood, the mink 

Went fishing down the river-brink. 

In fields with bean or clover gay. 

The woodchuck, like a hermit gray. 

Peered from the doorway of his cell; 
The muskrat plied the mason's trade, 
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid; 
And from the shagbark overhead 

The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell. 

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer 
And voice in dreams I see and hear, — 
The sweetest woman ever Fate 
Perverse denied a household mate. 
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less 
Found peace in love's unselfishness. 
And welcome wheresoe'er she went, 
A calm and gracious element, 
[ 51 ] 


Whose presence seemed the sweet income 
And womanly atmosphere of home, — 
Called up her girlhood memories. 
The huskings and the apple-bees, 
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails, 
Wea\ing through all the poor details 
And homespun warp of circumstance 
A golden woof -thread of romance. 
For well she kept her genial mood 
And simple faith of maidenhood; 
Before her still a cloud-land lay. 
The mirage loomed across her way; 
The morning dew, that dries so soon 
With others, glistened at her noon; 
Through years of toil and soil and care. 
From glossy tress to thin gray hair, 
All unprofaned she held apart 
The virgin fancies of the heart. 
Be shame to him of woman born 
WTio hath for such but thought of scorn. 

There, too, our elder sister plied 
Her evening task the stand beside; 
A full, rich nature, free to trust. 
Truthful and almost sternly just. 
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act. 
And make her generous thought a fact. 
Keeping with many a light disguise 
The secret of self-sacrifice. 
O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best 
[ 52 ] 


That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest. 
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things! 
How many a poor one's blessing went 
With thee beneath the low green tent 
TNTiose curtain never outward swings! 

As one who held herself a part 
Of all she saw, and let her heart 

Against the household bosom lean, 
Upon the motley-braided mat 
Our youngest and our dearest sat, 
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes, 

Now bathed in the unfading green 
And holy peace of Paradise. 
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill. 

Or from the shade of saintly palms. 

Or silver reach of river calms, 
Do those large eyes behold me still ? 
With me one little year ago : — 
The chill weight of the winter snow 

For months upon her grave has lain; 
And now, when summer south-winds blow 

And brier and harebell bloom again, 
I tread the pleasant paths we trod, 
I see the violet-sprinkled sod 
WTiereon she leaned, too frail and weak 
The hillside flowers she loved to seek. 
Yet following me where'er I went 
With dark eyes full of love's content. 
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills 
[ 53 ] 


The air with sweetness; all the hills 

Stretch green to June's unclouded sky; 

But still I wait with ear and eye 

For something gone which should be nigh, 

A loss in all familiar things, 

In flower that blooms, and bird that sings. 

And yet, dear heart I remembering thee. 

Am I not richer than of old ? 
Safe in thy immortality, 

"VMiat change can reach the wealth I hold ? 

\Miat chance can mar the peari and gold 
Thy love hath left in trust with me ? 
And while in life's late afternoon, 

Where cool and long the shadows grow, 
I walk to meet the night that soon 

Shall shape and shadow overflow, 
I cannot feel that thou art far. 
Since near at need the angels are; 
And when the sunset gates unbar, 

Shall I not see thee waiting stand. 
And, white against the evening star, 

The welcome of thy beckoning hand ? 


The pines were dark on Ramoth hill. 
Their song was soft and low; 

^ See Pickard's Life of Whitlier, pp. 276, 456-458, and WhiUier- 
Land, pp. 66-67. 

[ 54 ] 


The V^i^>g«^Tn<5 in the sweet Mav wind 
Were falTmg like the snow. 

The hlnmnms drifted at our feet. 
Hie orchaid buds sang clear; 
Tlie sweetest and the saddest day 

It seemed of all the Tear. 

For, more to me than birds or flowers. 

My plavmate left her home. 
And took with her the laughing spring, 

The music and the blown. 

She kissed Ae lips of kith and kin* 
She laid her hand in mine: 

What more could ask the bashful boy 
Who fed her father's kine ? 

Sbe left us in the bloom of May: 

The ccMistant yeais tc^ o'er 
Tliecr seasons widi as sweet May moms. 

But she came back no more. 

I walk, with noiseless feet, the round 
Of mieventfol years; 

Still o'er and o'er I sow the spring 
And reap the autunm ears. 

She Ii^es idioe aH the golden year 
Her summer roses blow; 
[ 55 ] 


The dusky children of the sun 
Before her come and go. 

There haply with her jewelled hands 
She smooths her silken gown, — 

No more the homespun lap wherein 
I shook the walnuts down. 

The wild grapes wait us by the brook. 

The brown nuts on the hill, 
And still the May-day flowers make sweet 

The woods of Follymill. 

The lilies blossom in the pond, 

The bird builds in the tree, 
The dark pines sing on Ramoth hill 

The slow song of the sea. 

I wonder if she thinks of them. 
And how the old time seems, — 

If ever the pines of Ramoth wood 
Are sounding in her dreams. 

I see her face, I hear her voice; 

Does she remember mine ? 
And what to her is now the boy 

Who fed her father's kine ? 

What cares she that the orioles build 
For other eyes than ours, — 
[ 56 ] 


That other hands with nuts are filled. 
And other laps with flowers ? 

O playmate in the golden time! 

Our mossy seat is green, 
Its fringing violets blossom yet, 

The old trees o'er it lean. 

The winds so sweet with birch and fern 

A sweeter memory blow; 
And there in spring the veeries sing 

The song of long ago. 

And still the pines of Ramoth wood 
Are moaning like the sea, — 

The moaning of the sea of change 
Between myself and thee! 


Here is the place; right over the hill 

Runs the path I took; 
You can see the gap in the old wall still, 

And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook. 

^ A remarkable custom, brought from the Old Country, formerly 
prevailed in the rural districts of New England. On the death of a 
member of the family, the bees were at once informed of the event, 
and their hives dressed in mourning. This ceremonial was supposed 
to be necessary to prevent the swarms from leaving their hives and 
seeking a new home. — Whittier. 

The scene is minutely that of the Whittier homestead. 
[ 57 ] 


There is the house, with the gate red-barred, 

And the poplars tall; 
And the barn's brown length, and the cattle-yard, 

And the white horns tossing above the wall. 

There are the beehives ranged in the sun; 

And down by the brink 
Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun. 

Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink. 

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes. 

Heavy and slow; 
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows, 

And the same brook sings of a year ago. 

There's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze; 

And the June sun warm 
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees, 

Setting, as then, over Fernside farm. 

I mind me how with a lover's care 

From my Sunday coat 
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair. 

And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat. 

Since we parted, a month had passed, — 

To love, a year; 
Down through the beeches I looked at last 

On the little red gate and the well-sweep near. 
[ 58 ] 


I can see it all now, — the slantwise rain 

Of light through the leaves, 
The sundown's blaze on her window-pane. 

The bloom of her roses under the eaves. 

Just the same as a month before, — 

The house and the trees. 
The barn's brown gable, the vine by the door, 

Nothing changed but the hives of bees. 

Before them, under the garden wall. 

Forward and back. 
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small, 

Draping each hive with a shred of black. 

Trembling, I listened : the summer sun 

Had the chill of snow; 
For I knew she was telling the bees of one 

Gone on the journey we all must go I 

Then I said to myself, "My Mary weeps 

For the dead to-day: 
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps 

The fret and the pain of his age away." 

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill, 

With his cane to his chin, 
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still 

Sung to the bees stealing out and in. 
[ 59 ] 


And the song she was singing ever since 

In my ear sounds on : — 
*Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence! 

Mistress Mary is dead and gone"" 




No more these simple flowers belong 

To Scottish maid and lover; 
Sown in the common soil of song. 

They bloom the wide world over. 

In smiles and tears, in sun and showers. 

The minstrel and the heather. 
The deathless singer and the flowers 

He sang of live together. 

Wild heather-bells and Robert Burns! 

The moorland flower and peasant! 
How, at their mention, memory turns 

Her pages old and pleasant! 

The gray sky wears again its gold 

And purple of adorning, 
And manhood's noonday shadows hold 

The dews of boyhood's morning: 

* See Carpenter's Whittier, p. 30. 

[ 60 ] 



The dews that washed the dust and soil 
From off the wings of pleasure, 

The sky that flecked the ground of toil 
With golden threads of leisure. 

I call to mind the summer day. 

The early harvest mowing, 
The sky with sun and clouds at play, 

And flowers with breezes blowing. 

I hear the blackbird in the com, 

The locust in the haying; 
And, like the fabled hunter's horn. 

Old tunes my heart is playing. 

How oft that day, with fond delay, 
I sought the maple's shadow, 

And sang with Bums the hours away. 
Forgetful of the meadow! 

Bees hummed, birds twittered, overhead 
I heard the squirrels leaping, 

The good dog listened while I read. 
And wagged his tail in keeping. 

I watched him while in sportive mood 
I read ''The Tica Dogs''' story. 

And half believed he understood 
The poet's allegory. 

[ 61 ] 


Sweet day, sweet songs! The golden hours 
Grew brighter for that singing, 

From brook and bird and meadow flowers 
A dearer welcome bringing. 

New light on home-seen Nature beamed, 

New glory over Woman; 
And daily life and duty seemed 

No longer poor and common. 

I woke to find the simple truth 

Of fact and feeling better 
Than all the dreams that held my youth 

A still repining debtor; 

That Nature gives her handmaid, Art, 
The themes of sweet discoursing; 

The tender idyls of the heart 
In every tongue rehearsing. 

Why dream of lands of gold and pearl, 

Of loving knight and lady. 
When farmer boy and barefoot girl 

Were wandering there already ? 

I saw through all familiar things 

The romance underlying; 
The joys and griefs that plume the wings 

Of Fancy skyward flying. 
[ 62 ] 


I saw the same blithe day return, 
The same sweet fall of even, 

That rose on wooded Craigie-burn, 
And sank on crystal Devon. 

I matched with Scotland's heathery hills 
The sweetbrier and the clover; 

With Ayr and Doon, my native rills. 
Their wood hymns chanting over. 

O'er rank and pomp, as he had seen, 

I saw the Man uprising; 
No longer common or unclean. 

The child of God's baptizing! 

With clearer eyes I saw the worth 

Of life among the lowly; 
The Bible at his Cotter's hearth 

Had made my own more holy. 

And if at times an evil strain. 

To lawless love appealing. 
Broke in upon the sweet refrain 

Of pure and healthful feeling, 

It died upon the eye and ear. 

No inward answer gaining; 
No heart had I to see or hear 

The discord and the staining. 
[ 63 ] 


Let those who never erred forget 
His worth, in vain bewailings; 

Sweet Soul of Song! I own my debt 
Uncancelled by his failings! 

Lament who will the ribald line 
Which tells his lapse from duty. 

How kissed the maddening lips of wine 
Or wanton ones of beauty; 

But think, while falls that shade between 

The erring one and Heaven, 
That he who loved like Magdalen, 

Like her may be forgiven. 

Not his the song whose thunderous chime 

Eternal echoes render; 
The mournful Tuscan's haunted rhyme, 

And Milton's starry splendor! 

But who his human heart has laid 

To Nature's bosom nearer? 
Who sweetened toil like him, or paid 

To love a tribute dearer ? 

Through all his tuneful art, how strong 

The human feeling gushes! 
The very moonlight of his song 

Is warm with smiles and blushes! 
[ 64 ] 


Give lettered pomp to teeth of Time, 
So "Bonnie Doon" but tarry; 

Blot out the Epic's stately rhyme. 
But spare his Highland Mary! 


The sky is ruddy in the east. 

The earth is gray below. 
And, spectral in the river-mist, 

The ship's white timbers show. 
Then let the sounds of measured stroke 

And grating saw begin; 
The broad-axe to the gnarled oak. 

The mallet to the pin! 

Hark! roars the bellows, blast on blast. 

The sooty smithy jars. 
And fire-sparks, rising far and fast. 

Are fading with the stars. 
All day for us the smith shall stand 

Beside that flashing forge; 
All day for us his heavy hand 

The groaning anvil scourge. 

From far-off hills, the panting team 

For us is toiling near; 
For us the raftsmen down the stream 

Their island barges steer. 
[ 65 ] 


Rings out for us the axe-man's stroke 

In forests old and still; 
For us the century-circled oak 

Falls crashing down his hill. 

Up! up! in nobler toil than ours 

No craftsmen bear a part: 
We make of Nature's giant powers 

The slaves of human Art. 
Lay rib to rib and beam to beam, 

And drive the treenails free; 
Nor faithless joint nor yawning seam 

Shall tempt the searching sea! 

Where'er the keel of our good ship 

The sea's rough field shall plough; 
WTiere'er her tossing spars shall drip 

With salt-spray caught below; 
That ship must heed her master's beck, 

Her helm obey his hand, 
And seamen tread her reeling deck 

As if they trod the land. 

Her oaken ribs the "VTilture-beak 

Of Northern ice may peel; 
The sunken rock and coral peak 

May grate along her keel; 
And know we well the painted shell 

We give to wind and wave. 
Must float, the sailor's citadel. 

Or sink, the sailor's grave! 
[ 66 ] 


Ho! strike away the bars and blocks, 

And set the good ship free! 
Why hngers on these dusty rocks 

The young bride of the sea ? 
Look! how she moves adown the grooves, 

In graceful beauty now! 
How lowly on the breast she loves 

Sinks down her virgin prow! 

God bless her! wheresoe'er the breeze 

Her snowy wing shall fan, 
Aside the frozen Hebrides, 

Or sultry Hindostan! 
"WTiere'er, in mart or on the main, 

With peaceful flag unfurled, 
She helps to wind the silken chain 

Of commerce round the world! 

Speed on the ship! But let her bear 

No merchandise of sin, 
No groaning cargo of despair 

Her roomy hold within; 
No Lethean drug for Eastern lands, 

Nor poison-draught for ours; 
But honest fruits of toiling hands 

And Nature's sun and showers. 

Be hers the Prairie's golden grain, 

The Desert's golden sand. 
The clustered fruits of sunny Spain, 

The spice of Morning-land! 
[ 67 ] 


Her pathway on the open main 
May blessings follow free, 

And glad hearts welcome back again 
Her white sails from the sea ! 


Of all the rides since the birth of time, 
Told in story or sung in rhyme, — 
On Apuleius's Golden Ass, 
Or one-eyed Calender's horse of brass, 

^ In tbe valuable and carefully prepared History of Marllehead, 
published in 1879 by Samuel Roads, Jr., it is stated that the crew of 
Captain Ireson, rather than himself, were responsible for the aban- 
donment of the disabled vessel. To screen themselves they charged 
their captain with the crime. In view of this the writer of the ballad 
addressed the following letter to the historian: 

Oak Knoll, Danvers, 5 mo. 18, 1880. 

My deae Friexd; I heartily thank thee for a copy of thy History 
of Marhlehead. I have read it with great interest and think good use 
has been made of the abundant material. No town in Essex County 
has a record more honorable than Marblehead; no one has done more 
to develop the industrial interests of our New England seaboard, and 
certainly none have given such evidence of self-sacrificing patriotism. 
I am glad the story of it has been at last told, and told so well. I have 
now no doubt that thy version of Skipper Ireson's ride is the correct 
one. My verse was founded solely on a fragment of rhyme which 
I heard from one of my early schoolmates, a native of Marblehead. 

I supposed the story to which it referred dated back at least a cen- 
tury. I knew nothing of the participators, and the narrative of the 
ballad was pure fancy. I am glad for the sake of truth and justice 
that the real facts are given in thy book. I certainly would not know- 
ingly do injustice to any one, dead or living. 

I am very truly thy friend, 

John G. Whiitieb. 

[ 68 ] 


Witch astride of a human back, 
Islam's prophet on Al-Borak, — 
The strangest ride that ever was sped 
Was Ireson's, out from Marblehead! 
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart, 
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart 
By the women of Marblehead ! 

Body of turkey, head of owl. 
Wings a-droop like a rained-on fowl. 
Feathered and ruflBied in every part, 
Skipper Ireson stood in the cart. 
Scores of women, old and young. 
Strong of muscle, and glib of tongue, 
Pushed and pulled up the rocky lane. 
Shouting and singing the shrill refrain: 
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt, 
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt 
By the women o' Morble'ead!" 

Wrinkled scolds with hands on hips, 
Girls in bloom of cheek and lips. 
Wild-eyed, free-limbed, such as chase 
Bacchus round some antique vase, 
Brief of skirt, with ankles bare. 
Loose of kerchief and loose of hair. 
With conch-shells blowing and fish-horns' twang. 
Over and over the Maenads sang: 
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt, 
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt 
By the women o' Morble'ead!" 
[ 69 ] 


Small pity for him ! — He sailed away 
From a leaking ship in Chaleur Bay, — 
Sailed away from a sinking wreck, 
With his own town's-people on her deck! 
*Lay by! lay by!" they called to him. 
Back he answered, "Sink or swim! 
Brag of your catch of fish again ! " 
And off he sailed through the fog and rain! 
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart. 
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart 
By the women of Marblehead! 

Fathoms deep in dark Chaleur 
That wreck shall lie forevermore. 
Mother and sister, wife and maid, 
Looked from the rocks of Marblehead 
Over the moaning and rainy sea, — 
Looked for the coming that might not be! 
"VMiat did the winds and the sea-birds say 
Of the cruel captain who sailed away ? — 
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart. 
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart 
By the women of Marblehead! 

Through the street, on either side. 
Up flew windows, doors swung wide; 
Sharp-tongued spinsters, old wives gray. 
Treble lent the fish-horn's bray. 
Sea-worn grandsires, cripple-bound. 
Hulks of old sailors run aground, 
[ 70 ] 


Shook head, and fist, and hat, and cane, 
And cracked with curses the hoarse refrain: 
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt, 
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt 
By the women o' Morble'ead!" 

Sweetly along the Salem road 
Bloom of orchard and lilac showed. 
Little the wicked skipper knew 
Of the fields so green and the sky so blue. 
Riding there in his sorry trim. 
Like an Indian idol glum and trim. 
Scarcely he seemed the sound to hear 
Of voices shouting, far and near: 
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt, 
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt 
By the women o' Morble'ead!" 

"Hear me, neighbors!" at last he cried, — 
"What to me is this noisy ride? 
What is the shame that clothes the skin 
To the nameless horror that lives within ? 
Waking or sleeping, I see a wreck. 
And hear a cry from a reeling deck! 
Hate me and curse me, — I only dread 
The hand of God and the face of the dead!" 
Said old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart, 
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart 
By the women of Marblehead! 

[ 71 ] 


Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea 
Said, "God has touched him! why should we!" 
Said an old wife mourning her only son, 
"Cut the rogue's tether and let him run!" 
So with soft relentings and rude excuse. 
Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose. 
And gave him a cloak to hide him in, 
And left him alone with his shame and sin. 
Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart. 
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart 
By the women of Marblehead! 


IVL^UD MuLLER on a summer's day 
Raked the meadow sweet with hay. 

Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth 
Of simple beauty and rustic health. 

^ The recollection of some descendants of a Hessian deserter in 
the Revolutionary war bearing the name of Muller doubtless sug- 
gested the somewhat infelicitous title of a New England idyl. The 
poem had no real foundation in fact, though a hint of it may have been 
found in recalling an incident, trivial in itself, of a journey on the pic- 
turesque Maine seaboard with my sister some years before it was 
written. We had stopped to rest our tired horse under the shade of an 
apple-tree, and refresh him with water from a little brook which rip- 
pled through the stone wall across the road. A very beautiful young 
girl in scantest summer attire was at work in the hay-field, and as we 
talked with her we noticed that she strove to hide her bare feet by 
raking hay over them, blushing as she did so, through the tan of her 
cheek and neck. — Whittieh. 

[ 72 ] 


Singing, she wrought, and her meny glee 
The mock-bird echoed from his tree. 

But when she glanced to the far-off town, 
White from its hill-slope looking down. 

The sweet song died, and a vague unrest 
And a nameless longing filled her breast, — 

A wish that she hardly dared to own, 
For something better than she had known. 

The Judge rode slowly down the lane, 
Smoothing his horse's chestnut mane. 

He drew his bridle in the shade 

Of the apple-trees, to greet the maid, 

And asked a draught from the spring that flowed 
Through the meadow across the road. 

She stooped where the cool spring bubbled up, 
And filled for him her small tin cup, 

And blushed as she gave it, lookiDg down 

On her feet so bare, and her tattered gown. 

"Thanks I" said the Judge: "a sweeter draught 
From a fairer hand was never quaffed." 
[ -3 ] 


He spoke of the grass and flowers and trees. 
Of the singing birds and the humming bees; 

Then talked of the haying, and wondered whether 
The cloud in the west would bring foul weather. 

And Maud forgot her brier-tom gown. 
And her graceful ankles bare and brown; 

And listened, while a pleased surprise 
Looked from her long-lashed hazel eyes. 

At last, like one who for delay 
Seeks a vain excuse, he rode away. 

Maud Muller looked and sighed: "Ah me! 
That I the Judge's bride might be! 

"He would dress me up in silks so fine. 
And praise and toast me at his wine. 

"My father should wear a broadcloth coat; 
My brother should sail a painted boat. 

"I*d dress my mother so grand and gay. 
And the baby should have a new toy each day. 

"And I'd feed the hungry and clothe the poor. 

And all should bless me who left our door." 

[ 74 ] 


The Judge looked back as he chmbed the hill, 
And saw Maud Muller standing still. 

"A form more fair, a face more sweet. 
Ne'er hath it been my lot to meet. 

"And her modest answer and graceful air 
Show her wise and good as she is fair. 

"Would she were mine, and I to-day. 
Like her, a harvester of hay; 

"No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs, 
Nor weary law}^ers with endless tongues, 

"But low of cattle and song of birds. 
And health and quiet and loving words." 

But he thought of his sisters, proud and cold, 
And his mother, vain of her rank and gold 

So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on. 
And Maud was left in the field alone. 

But the lawyers smiled that afternoon. 
When he hummed in court an old love-tune; 

And the young girl mused beside the well 
Till the rain on the unraked clover fell. 
[ 75 ] 


He wedded a wife of richest dower, 
Who lived for fashion, as he for power. 

Yet oft, in his marble hearth's bright glow, 
He watched a picture come and go; 

And sweet Maud MuUer's hazel eyes 
Looked out in their innocent surprise. 

Oft, when the wine in his glass was red. 
He longed for the wayside well instead; 

And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms 
To dream of meadows and clover-blooms. 

And the proud man sighed, with a secret pain, 
"Ah, that I were free again! 

"Free as when I rode that day, 
Where the barefoot maiden raked her hay." 

She wedded a man unlearned and poor, 
And many children played round her door. 

But care and sorrow, and childbirth pain, 
Left their traces on heart and brain. 

And oft, when the summer sun shone hot 
On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot, 
[ 76 ] 


And she heard the little spring brook fall 
Over the roadside, through the wall, 

In the shade of the apple-tree again 
She saw a rider draw his rein; 

And, gazing down with timid grace. 
She felt his pleased eyes read her face. 

Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls 
Stretched away into stately halls; 

The weary wheel to a spinnet turned. 
The tallow candle an astral burned. 

And for him who sat by the chimney lug. 
Dozing and grumbling o'er pipe and mug, 

A manly form at her side she saw, 
And joy was duty and love was law. 

Then she took up her burden of life again. 
Saving only, "It might have been." 

Alas for maiden, alas for Judge, 

For rich repiner and household drudge ! 

God pity them both I and pity us all, 
Who vainlv the dreams of youth recall. 

[ " ] 


For of all sad words of tongue or pen. 

The saddest are these: "It might have been!" 

Ah, well! for us all some sweet hope lies 
Deeply buried from human eyes; 

And, in the hereafter, angels may 
Roll the stone from its grave away J 


. O Mother Earth! upon thy lap 

Thy weary ones receiving, 
And o'er them, silent as a dream, 

Thy grassy mantle weaving, 
Fold softly in thy long embrace 

That heart so worn and broken. 
And cool its pulse of fire beneath 

Thy shadows old and oaken. 

Shut out from him the bitter word 

And serpent hiss of scorning; 
Nor let the storms of yesterday 

Disturb his quiet morning. 

^ Though not published until 1847, several lines indicate that the 
poem was written not long after Randolph's death in 1833. In a letter 
published in July, 1833, Whittier says: "In the last hour of his [Ran- 
dolph's] existence, when his soul was struggling from its broken tene- 
ment, his latest effort was the confirmation of this generous act of a 
former period [the manumission of his slaves]. Light rest the turf upon 
him, beneath his patrimonial oaks I The prayers of many hearts made 
happy by his benevolence shall linger over his grave and bless it." 
[ 78 ] 


Breathe over him forgetfulness 
Of all save deeds of kindness. 

And, save to smiles of grateful eyes. 
Press down his lids in blindness. 

There, where with living ear and eye 

He heard Potomac's flowing. 
And, through his tall ancestral trees, 

Saw autumn's sunset glowing. 
He sleeps, still looking to the west, 

Beneath the dark wood shadow. 
As if he still would see the sun 

Sink down on wave and meadow. 

Bard, Sage, and Tribune! in himself 

All moods of mind contrasting, — 
The tenderest wail of human woe. 

The scorn like lightning blasting; 
The pathos which from rival eyes 

Unwilling tears could summon. 
The stinging taunt, the fiery burst 

Of hatred scarcely human ! 

Mirth, sparkling like a diamond shower. 

From lips of life-long sadness; 
Clear picturings of majestic thought 

Upon a ground of madness; 
And over all Romance and Song 

A classic beauty throwing. 
And laurelled Clio at his side 

Her storied pages showing. 
[ 79 ] 


All parties feared him: each in turn 

Beheld its schemes disjointed, 
As right or left his fatal glance 

And spectral finger pointed. 
Sworn foe of Cant, he smote it down 

With trenchant wit unsparing. 
And, mocking, rent with ruthless hand 

The robe Pretence was wearing. 

Too honest or too proud to feign 

A love he never cherished. 
Beyond Virginia's border line 

His patriotism perished. 
While others hailed in distant skies 

Our eagle's dusky pinion. 
He only saw the mountain bird 

Stoop o'er his Old Dominion! 

Still through each change of fortune strange. 

Racked nerve, and brain all burning, 
His loving faith in Mother-land 

Knew never shade of turning; 
By Britain's lakes, by Neva's tide, 

Whatever sky was o'er him. 
He heard her rivers' rushing sound. 

Her blue peaks rose before him. 

He held his slaves, yet made withal 

No false and vain pretences. 
Nor paid a lying priest to seek 

For Scriptural defences. 
[ 80 ] 


His harshest words of proud rebuke, 
His bitterest taunt and scorning, 

Fell fire-like on the Northern brow 
That bent to him in fawning. 

He held his slaves; yet kept the white 

His reverence for the Human; 
In the dark vassals of his will 

He saw but Man and Woman! 
No hunter of God's outraged poor 

His Roanoke valley entered; 
No trader in the souls of men 

Across his threshold ventured. 

And when the old and wearied man 

Lay down for his last sleeping, 
And at his side, a slave no more, 

His brother-man stood weeping. 
His latest thought, his latest breath. 

To Freedom's duty giving. 
With failing tongue and trembling hand 

The dying blest the living. 

Oh, never bore his ancient State 

A truer son or braver! 
None trampling with a calmer scom 

On foreign hate or favor. 
He knew her faults, yet never stooped 

His proud and manly feeling 
To poor excuses of the wrong 

Or meanness of concealing. 
[ 81 ] 


But none beheld with clearer eye 

The plague-spot o'er her spreading. 
None heard more sure the steps of Doom 

Along her future treading. 
For her as for himself he spake, 

When, his gaunt frame upbracing. 
He traced with dying hand "Remorse!" 

And perished in the tracing. 

As from the grave where Henry sleeps. 

From Vernon's weeping willow. 
And from the grassy pall which hides 

The Sage of Monticello, 
So from the leaf-strewn burial-stone 

Of Randolph's lowly dwelling, 
Virginia ! o'er thy land of slaves 

A warning voice is swelling! 

And hark! from thy deserted fields 

Are sadder warnings spoken. 
From quenched hearths, where thy exiled sons 

Their household gods have broken. 
The curse is on thee, — wolves for men. 

And briers for corn-sheaves giving! 
Oh, more than all thy dead renown 

Were now one hero living! 

t 82 ] 



The blast from Freedom's Northern hills, upon its 

Southern way, 
Bears greeting to Virginia from Massachusetts Bay : 
No word of haughty challenging, nor battle bugle's peal. 
Nor steady tread of marching files, nor clang of horse- 
men's steel. 

No trains of deep-mouthed cannon along our highways 


Around our silent arsenals untrodden lies the snow ; 
And to the land-breeze of our ports, upon their errands 

A thousand sails of commerce swell, but none are spread 

for war. 

What means the Old Dominion ? Hath she forgot the 

When o'er her conquered valleys swept the Briton's steel 


^ Written on reading an account of the proceedings of the citizens 
of Norfolk, Va., in reference to George Latimer, the alleged fugitive 
slave, who was seized in Boston without warrant at the request of 
James B. Grey, of Norfolk, claiming to be his master. The case 
caused great excitement North and South, and led to the presentation 
of a petition to Congress, signed by more than fifty thousand citizens 
of Massachusetts, calling for such laws and proposed amendments 
to the Constitution as should relieve the Commonwealth from all 
further participation in the crime of oppression. George Latimer 
himself was finally given free papers for the sum of four hundred 
dollars. — Whittier. 

[ 83 ] 


How side by side, with sons of hers, the Massachusetts 

Encountered Tarleton's charge of fire, and stout Corn- 

wallis, then? 

Forgets she how the Bay State, in answer to the call 
Of her old House of Burgesses, spoke out from Faneuil 

When, echoing back her Henry's cry, came pulsing on 

each breath 
Of Northern winds the thrilling sounds of "Liberty or 


What asks the Old Dominion? If now her sons have 

False to their fathers' memory, false to the faith they 

loved ; 
If she can scoff at Freedom, and its great charter spurn, 
Must we of Massachusetts from truth and duty turn? 

A voice from lips whereon the coal from Freedom's 

shrine hath been, 
Thrilled, as but yesterday, the hearts of Berkshire's 

mountain men: 
The echoes of that solemn voice are sadly lingering still 
In all our sunny valleys, on every wind-swept hill. 

And when the prowling man-thief came hunting for his 

Beneath the very shadow of Bunker's shaft of gray, 
[ 84 ] 


How, through the free lips of the son, the father's warn- 
ing spoke; 

How, from its bonds of trade and sect, the Pilgrim city 
broke I 

A hmidred thousand right arms were hfted up on 

A hundred thousand voices sent back their loud 

Through the thronged towns of Essex the startling sum- 
mons rang, 

And up from bench and loom and wheel her young 
mechanics sprang I 

The voice of free, broad Middlesex, of thousands as of 

The shaft of Bunker calling to that of Lexington; 
From Norfolk's ancient \*illages, from PhTuouth's rocky 

To where Nantucket feels the arms of ocean close her 


From rich and rural Worcester, where through the calm 

Of cultured vales and fringina: woods the crentle Nashua 


To where Wachuset's wintry blasts the mountain larches 

Swelled up to Heaven the thrilling en- of "God save 

Latimer I" 

[ 85 ] 


And sandy Barnstable rose up, wet with the salt sea 

And Bristol sent her answering shout down Narragan- 

sett Bay! 
Along the broad Connecticut old Hampden felt the 

And the cheer of Hampshire's woodmen swept down 

from Holyoke Hill. 

The voice of Massachusetts! Of her free sons and 

Deep calling unto deep aloud, the sound of many 

waters ! 
Against the burden of that voice what tyrant power shall 

stand ? 
No fetters in the Bay State! No slave upon her land! 

Look to it well, Virginians! In calmness we have 

In answer to our faith and trust, your insult and your 
scorn ; 

You've spurned our kindest counsels; you've hunted 
for our lives; 

And shaken round our hearths and homes your man- 
acles and gyves! 

We wage no war, we lift no arm, we fling no torch 

The fire-damps of the quaking mine beneath your soil 

of sin; 

t 86 ] 


We leave ye with your bondmen, to wrestle, while ye 

With the strong upward tendencies and godlike soul of 


But for us and for our children, the vow which we have 

For freedom and humanity is registered in heaven; 
No slave-hunt in our borders, — no pirate on our 

strand ! 
No fetters in the Bay State, — no slave upon our land ! 


Lift again the stately emblem on the Bay State's rusted 

Give to our Northern winds the Pine-Tree on our ban- 
ner's tattered field. 

Sons of men who sat in council with their Bibles round 
the board. 

Answering England's royal missive with a firm, " Thus 
saith the Lord!" 

Rise again for home and freedom! set the battle in 

What the fathers did of old time we their sons must do 

* Written on hearing that the Anti-Slavery Resolves of Stephen C 
Phillips had been rejected by the Whig Convention in Faneuil Hall, 
in 1846. — Whittieh. 

[ 87 ] 


Tell us not of banks and tariffs, cease your paltry pedler 

Shall the good State sink her honor that your gambling 
stocks may rise? 

Would ye barter man for cotton ? That your gains may 
sum up higher, 

Must we kiss the feet of Moloch, pass our children 
through the fire? 

Is the dollar only real? God and truth and right a 
dream ? 

Weighed against your lying ledgers must our man- 
hood kick the beam? 

O my God ! for that free spirit, which of old in Boston 

Smote the Province House with terror, struck the crest 

of Andros down ! 
For another strong-voiced Adams in the city's streets to 

"Up for God and Massachusetts! Set your feet on 

Mammon's lie! 
Perish banks and perish traffic, spin your cotton's latest 

But in Heaven's name keep your honor, keep the heart 

o' the Bay State sound!" 

Where 's the man for Massachusetts ? Where 's the voice 
to speak her free ? 

Where's the hand to light up bonfires from her moun- 
tains to the sea? 

[ 88 ] 


Beats her Pilgrim pulse no longer ? Sits she dumb in her 
despair ? 

Has she none to break the silence ? Has she none to do 
and dare? 

O my God! for one right worthy to lift up her rusted 

And to plant again the Pine-Tree in her banner's tat- 
tered field! 


So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn 

Which once he wore! 
The glory from his gray hairs gone 

Forevermore ! 

^ This poem was the outcome of the surprise and grief and forecast 
of evil consequences which I felt on readin<]; the seventh of March 
speech of Daniel Webster in support of the "compromise," and the 
Fugitive Slave Law. No partisan or personal enmity dictated it. On 
the contrary my admiration of the splendid personality and intellectual 
power of the great Senator was never stronger than when I laid down 
his speech, and, in one of the saddest moments of my life, penned my 
protest. I saw, as I wrote, with painful clearness its sure results, — the 
Slave Power arrogant and defiant, strengthened and encouraged to 
carry out its scheme for the extension of its baleful system, or the dis- 
solution of the Union, the guaranties of personal liberty in the free 
States broken down, and the whole country made the hunting-ground 
of slave-catchers. In the horror of such a vision, so soon fearfully ful- 
filled, if one spoke at all, he could only speak in tones of stern and 
sorrowful rebuke. 

But death softens all resentments, and the consciousness of a com- 
mon inheritance of frailty and weakness modifies the severity of judg- 
ment. Years after, in The Lost Occasion, I gave utterance to an almost 
universal regret that the great statesman did not hve to see the flag 
which he loved trampled under the feet of Slavery, and, in view of this 
desecration, make his last days glorious in defence of "Liberty and 
Union, one and inseparable." — Whittieb. 
[ 89 ] 


Revile him not, the Tempter hath 

A snare for all; 
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath, 

Befit his fall! 

Oh, dumb be passion's stormy rage, 

When he who might 
Have lighted up and led his age, 

Falls back in night. 

Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark 

A bright soul driven, 
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark, 

From hope and heaven! 

Let not the land once proud of him 

Insult him now. 
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim. 

Dishonored brow. 

But let its humbled sons, instead, 

From sea to lake, 
A long lament, as for the dead, 

In sadness make. 

Of all we loved and honored, naught 

Save power remains; 
A fallen angel's pride of thought, 

Still strong in chains. 
[ 90 ] 


All else is gone; from those great eyes 

The soul has fled: 
When faith is lost, when honor dies. 

The man is dead! 

Then, pay the reverence of old days 

To his dead fame; 
Walk backward, with averted gaze, 

And hide the shame! 


Some die too late and some too soon. 
At early morning, heat of noon. 
Or the chill evening twilight. Thou, 
Whom the rich heavens did so endow 
With eyes of power and Jove's own brow. 
With all the massive strength that fills 
Thy home-horizon's granite hills, 
With rarest gifts of heart and head 
From manliest stock inherited. 
New England's stateliest type of man. 
In port and speech 01\Tnpian; 
W^hom no one met, at first, but took 
A second awed and wondering look 
(As, turned, perchance, the eyes of Greece 
On Phidias' unveiled masterpiece); 
Whose words in simplest homespun clad, 
The Saxon strength of Csedmon's had, 
* See footnote to Icliabod, 
[ 91 ] 


With power reserved at need to reach 

The Roman forum's loftiest speech, 

Sweet with persuasion, eloquent 

In passion, cool in argument. 

Or, ponderous, falling on thy foes 

As fell the Norse god's hammer blows, 

Crushing as if with Talus' flail 

Through Error's logic-woven mail. 

And failing only when they tried 

The adamant of the righteous side, — 

Thou, foiled in aim and hope, bereaved 

Of old friends, by the new deceived, 

Too soon for us, too soon for thee. 

Beside thy lonely Northern sea. 

Where long and low the marsh-lands spread, 

Laid wearily down thy august head. 

Thou shouldst have lived to feel below 
Thy feet Disunion's fierce upthrow; 
The late-sprung mine that underlaid 
Thy sad concessions vainly made. 
Thou shouldst have seen from Sumter's wall 
The star-flag of the Union fall, 
And armed rebellion pressing on 
The broken lines of Washington! 
No stronger voice than thine had then 
Called out the utmost might of men, 
To make the Union's charter free 
And strengthen law by liberty. 
How had that stern arbitrament 
[ 92 ] 


To thy gray age youth's vigor lent, 
Shaming ambition's paltn* prize 
Before thy disillusioned eyes; 
Breaking the spell about thee wound 
Like the green withes that Samson bound; 
Redeeming in one effort grand, 
Thyself and thy imperilled land! 
Ah, cruel fate, that closed to thee, 
O sleeper by the Northern sea, 
The gates of opportunity! 
God fills the gaps of human need, 
Each crisis brings its word and deed. 
Wise men and strong we did not lack; 
But still, with memory turning back, 
In the dark hours we thought of thee. 
And thy lone grave beside the sea. 

Above that grave the east winds blow. 
And from the marsh-lands drifting slow 
The sea-fog comes, with evermore 
The wave-wash of a lonely shore. 
And sea-bird's melancholy cry. 
As Nature fain would typify 
The sadness of a closing scene. 
The loss of that which should have been. 
But, where thy native mountains bare 
Their foreheads to diviner air. 
Fit emblem of enduring fame, 
One lofty summit keeps thy name. 
For thee the cosmic forces did 
[ 93 ] 


The rearing of that pjTamid, 
The prescient ages shaping with 
Fire, flood, and frost thy monohth. 
Sunrise and sunset lay thereon 
With hands of hght their benison, 
The stars of midnight pause to set 
Their jewels in its coronet. 
And evermore that mountain mass 
Seems climbing from the shadowy pass 
To light, as if to manifest 
Thy nobler self, thy life at best! 


Up from the meadows rich with corn, 
Clear in the cool September morn, 

The clustered spires of Frederick stand 
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland. 

* This poem was written in strict conformity to the account of the 
incident as I had it from respectable and trustworthy sources. It has 
since been the subject of a good deal of conflicting testimony, and the 
story was probably incorrect in some of its details. It is admitted by 
all that Barbara Frietchie was no myth, but a worthy and highly 
esteemed gentlewoman, intensely loyal and a hater of the Slavery 
Rebellion, holding her Union flag sacred and keeping it with her 
Bible; that when the Confederates halted before her house, and 
entered her dooryard, she denounced them in vigorous language, 
shook her cane in their faces, and drove them out; and when General 
Bumside's troops followed close upon Jackson's, she waved her flag 
and cheered them. It is stated that May Quantrell, a brave and loyal 
lady in another part of the city, did wave her flag in sight of the 
Confederates. It is possible that there has been a blending of the two 
incidents. — Whittieb. 

[ 94 ] 


Round about them orcliards sweep, 
Apple and peach tree fruited deep. 

Fair as the garden of the Lord 

To the eyes of the famished rebel horde. 

On that pleasant mom of the early fall 
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall; 

Over the mountains winding down, 
Horse and foot, into Frederick town. 

Forty flags with their silver stars. 
Forty flags with their crimson bars, 

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun 
Of noon looked down, and saw not one. 

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then, 
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten; 

Bravest of all in Frederick town. 

She took up the flag the men hauled down; 

In her attic window the staff she set. 
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 

Up the street came the rebel tread, 
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead. 
[ 95 ] 


Under his slouched hat left and ri^ht 
He glanced; the old flag met his sight. 

* Halt ! " — the dust-brown ranks stood fast. 
*Fire!" — out blazed the rifle-blast. 

It shivered the window, pane and sash: 
It rent the banner with seam and gash. 

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff 
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf. 

She leaned far out on the window-sill, 
And shook it forth with a royal will. 

' Shoot, if you must, this old gray head. 
But spare your country's flag," she said. 

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame. 
Over the face of the leader came; 

The nobler nature within him stirred 
To life at that woman's deed and word; 

' Who touches a hair of yon gray head 
Dies Hke a dog! March on!" he said. 

All day long through Frederick street 
Sounded the tread of marching feet: 
[ 96 ] 


All dav loD^ that free flacj tost 
Over the heads of the rebel host. 

Ever its torn folds rose and fell 

On the loyal winds that loved it well; 

And through the hill-gaps sunset light 
Shone over it with a warm good-night. 

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er, 

And the Rebel rides on his raids no more. 

Honor to her I and let a tear 

Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier. 

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave, 
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave! 

Peace and order and beauty draw 
Round thy symbol of light and law; 

And ever the stars above look down 
On thy stars below in Frederick town! 

[ 9- ] 



It is done! 

Clang of bell and roar of gun 
Send the tidings up and down. 

How the belfries rock and reel! 

How the great guns, peal on peal, 
Fling the joy from town to town! 

Ring, O bells! 

Every stroke exulting tells 
Of the burial hour of crime. 

Loud and long, that all may hear, 

Ring for every listening ear 
Of Eternity and Time! 

Let us kneel: 

God's own voice is in that peal, 
And this spot is holy ground. 

Lord, forgive us! What are we, 

That our eyes this glory see. 
That our ears have heard the sound! 

* On hearing the bells ring on the passage of the constitutional 
amendment abolishing slavery. The resolution was adopted by Con- 
gress, January 31, 1865. The ratification by the requisite number of 
States was announced December 18, 1865. [The suggestion came to 
the poet as he sat in the Friends' Meeting-house in Amesbury, where 
he was present at the regular Fifth-day meeting. All sat in silence, 
but on his return to his home, he recited a portion of the poem, not 
yet committed to paper, to his housemates in the garden room. "It 
wrote itself, or rather sang itself, while the bells rang," he wrote to 
Lucy Larcom.] 

[ 98 ] 


For the Lord 

On the whirlwind is abroad; 
In the earthquake He has spoken; 

He has smitten with His thunder 

The iron walls asunder, 
And the gates of brass are broken ! 

Loud and long 
Lift the old exulting song; 

Sing with Miriam by the sea, 
He has cast the mighty down; 
Horse and rider sink and drown; 

'He hath triumphed gloriously!" 

Did we dare, 

In our agony of prayer. 
Ask for more than He has done? 

WTien was ever His right hand 

Over any time or land 
Stretched as now beneath the sun ? 

How they pale. 
Ancient m}ih and song and tale. 

In this wonder of our days, 
"When the cruel rod of war 
Blossoms white with righteous law, 

And the wrath of man is praise! 

Blotted out! 
All within and all about 
Shall a fresher life begin; 
[ 99 ] 


Freer breathe the universe 
As it rolls its heavy curse 
On the dead and buried sin! 

It is done! 
In the circuit of the sun 
Shall the sound thereof go forth. 
It shall bid the sad rejoice, 
It shall give the dumb a voice, 

It shall belt with joy the earth! 
Ring and swing, 
Bells of joy! On morning's wing 

Send the song of praise abroad! 
With a sound of broken chains 
Tell the nations that he reigns. 

Who alone is Lord and God! 


All day the darkness and the cold 

Upon my heart have lain, 
Like shadows on the winter sky. 

Like frost upon the pane; 

But now my torpid fancy wakes. 

And, on thy Eagle's plume. 
Rides forth, like Sindbad on his bird. 

Or witch upon her broom! 
[ 100 ] 


Below me roar the rocking pines, 

Before me spreads the lake 
"WTiose long and solemn-sounding waves 

Against the sunset break. 

I hear the wild Rice-Eater thresh 

The grain he has not sown; 
I see, with flashing scythe of fire. 

The prairie harvest mown ! 

I hear the far-off voyager's horn; 

I see the Yankee's trail, — 
His foot on every mountain-pass, 

On every stream his sail. 

By forest, lake, and waterfall, 

I see his pedler show; 
The mighty mingling with the mean, 

The lofty with the low. 

He's whittling by St. Mary's Falls, 

Upon his loaded wain; 
He's measuring o'er the Pictured Rocks, 

With eager eyes of gain. 

I hear the mattock in the mine, 

The axe-stroke in the dell, 
The clamor from the Indian lodge. 

The Jesuit chapel bell! 
r 101 1 


I see the swarthy trappers come 

From Mississippi's springs; 
And war-chiefs with their painted brows, 

And crests of eagle wings. 

Behind the scared squaw's birch canoe, 
The steamer smokes and raves; 

And city lots are staked for sale 
Above old Indian graves. 

I hear the tread of pioneers 

Of nations yet to be; 
The first low wash of waves, where soon 

Shall roll a human sea. 

The rudiments of empire here 

Are plastic yet and warm; 
The chaos of a mighty world 

Is rounding into form! 

Each rude and jostling fragment soon 
Its fitting place shall find, — 

The raw material of a State, 
Its muscle and its mind! 

And, westering still, the star which leads 

The New World in its train 
Has tipped with fire the icy spears 

Of many a mountain chain. 
[ 102 ] 


The snc^y cones of Oregon 

Are kindling on its wav; 
And California's golden sands 

Gleam brighter in it5 ray! 

Then blessings on thy eagle quill, 

As, wandering far and wide, 
I thank thee for this twihght dream 

And Fancy's airy ride! 

Yet, welcomer than regal plumes, 

Which Western trappers find. 
Thy free and pleasant thoughts, chance sown, 

Like feathers on the wind. 

Thy symbol be the mountain-bird, 

TMiose glistening quill I hold; 
Thy home the ample air of hope. 

And memory's sunset gold! 

In thee, let joy with duty join. 

And strength unite with love, 
The eagle's pinions folding round 

The warm heart of the dove! 

So. when in darkness sleeps the vale 
Where still the blind bird clings. 

The sunshine of the upper sky 
Shall glitter on thy wings! 
[ 103 ] 



I MOURN no more my vanished years: 

Beneath a tender rain, 
An April rain of smiles and tears, 

My heart is young again. 

The west- winds blow, and, singing low, 
I hear the glad streams run; 

The windows of my soul I throw 
Wide open to the sun. 

No longer forward nor behind 

I look in hope or fear; 
But, grateful, take the good I find, 

The best of now and here. 

I plough no more a desert land. 
To harvest weed and tare; 

The manna dropping from God's hand 
Rebukes my painful care. 

I break my pilgrim staflF, I lay 

Aside the toiling oar; 
The angel sought so far away 

I welcome at my door. 

The airs of spring may never play 
Among the ripening corn, 
[ 104 ] 


Nor freshness of the flowers of May 
Blow through the autumn mom; 

Yet shall the blue-eyed gentian look 
Through fringed lids to heaven, 

And the pale aster in the brook 
Shall see its image given ; — 

The woods shall wear their robes of praise. 

The south-wind softly sigh, 
And sweet, calm days in golden haze 

Melt down the amber sky. 

Not less shall manly deed and word 

Rebuke an age of wrong; 
The graven flowers that wreathe the sword 

Make not the blade less strong. 

But smiting hands shall learn to heal — 

To build as to destroy; 
Nor less my heart for others feel 

That I the more enjoy. 

All as God wills, who wisely heeds 

To give or to withhold, 
And knoweth more of all my needs 

Than all my prayers have told! 

Enough that blessings undeserved 
Have marked my erring track; 
[ 105 ] 


That wheresoe'er my feet have swerved, 
His chastening turned me back; 

That more and more a Providence 

Of love is understood, 
Making the springs of time and sense 

Sweet with eternal good ; — 

That death seems but a covered way 

Which opens into light. 
Wherein no blinded child can stray 

Beyond the Father's sight; 

That care and trial seem at last, 
Through Memory's sunset air, 

Like mountain-ranges overpast, 
In purple distance fair; 

That all the jarring notes of life 
Seem blending in a psalm. 

And all the angles of its strife 
Slow rounding into calm. 

And so the shadows fall apart. 
And so the west-winds play; 

And all the windows of my heart 
I open to the day. 

106 ] 



friends! with whom my feet have trod 
The quiet aisles of prayer, 

Glad witness to your zeal for God 
And love of man I bear. 

1 trace your lines of argument; 
Your logic linked and strong 

I weigh as one who dreads dissent. 
And fears a doubt as wrong. 

But still my human hands are weak 

To hold your iron creeds: 
Against the words ye bid me speak 

My heart within me pleads. 

Who fathoms the Eternal Thought? 

Who talks of scheme and plan ? 
The Lord is God! He needeth not 

The poor device of man. 

I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground 

Ye tread with boldness shod; 
I dare not fix with mete and bound 

The love and power of God. 

Ye praise His justice; even such 
His pitying love I deem: 
[ 107 ] 


Ye seek a king; I fain would touch 
The robe that hath no seam. 

Ye see the curse which overbroods 

A world of pain and loss; 
I hear our Lord's beatitudes 

And prayer upon the cross. 

More than your schoolmen teach, within 

Myself, alas! I know: 
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin. 

Too small the merit show. 

I bow my forehead to the dust, 

I veil mine eyes for shame, 
And urge, in trembling self-distrust, 

A prayer without a claim. 

I see the wrong that round me lies, 

I feel the guilt within; 
I hear, with groan and travail-cries, 

The world confess its sin. 

Yet, in the maddening maze of things. 
And tossed by storm and flood. 

To one fixed trust my spirit clings; 
I know that God is good! 

Not mine to look where cherubim 
And seraphs may not see, 
[ 108 ] 


But nothing can be good in Him 
Which evil is in me. 

The wrong that pains my soul below 

I dare not throne above, 
I know not of His hate, — I know 

His goodness and His love. 

I dimly guess from blessings known 

Of greater out of sight. 
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own 

His judgments too are right. 

I long for household voices gone. 

For vanished smiles I long, 
But God hath led my dear ones on, 

And He can do no wrong. 

I know not what the future hath 

Of marvel or surprise. 
Assured alone that life and death 

His mercy underlies. 

And if my heart and flesh are weak 

To bear an untried pain, 
The bruised reed He will not break, 

But strengthen and sustain. 

No offering of my own I have. 
Nor works my faith to prove; 
t 109 1 


I can but give the gifts He gave, 
And plead His love for love. 

And so beside the Silent Sea 

I wait the muffled oar; 
No harm from Him can come to me 

On ocean or on shore. 

I know not where His islands hft 

Their fronded palms in air; 
I only know I cannot drift 

Beyond His love and care. 

O brothers! if my faith is vain, 

If hopes like these betray. 
Pray for me that my feet may gain 

The sure and safer way. 

And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen 

Thy creatures as they be, 
Forgive me if too close I lean 

My human heart on Thee! 


When on my day of life the night is falling, 
And, in the winds from unsunned spaces blown, 

I hear far voices out of darkness calling 

My feet to paths unknown, 

^ Recited by one of the little group of relations, who stood by the 
poet's bedside, as the last moment of his life approached. 

[ 110 ] 


Thou who hast made my home of life so pleasant, 
Leave not its tenant when its walls decay; 

Love Di\ine, O Helper ever present, 
Be Thou my strength and stay ! 

Be near me when all else is from me drifting; 

Earth, sky, home's pictures, days of shade and shine. 
And kindly faces to my own uplifting 

The love which answers mine. 

1 have but Thee, my Father! let Thy spirit 
Be with me then to comfort and uphold; 

No gate of pearl, no branch of palm I merit, 
Nor street of shining gold. 

Suffice it if — my good and ill unreckoned, 

And both forgiven through Thy abounding grace — 

I find myself by hands familiar beckoned 
Unto my fitting place. 

Some humble door among Thy many mansions. 
Some sheltering shade where sin and striving cease, 

And flows forever through heaven's green expansions 
The river of Thy peace. 

There, from the music round about me stealing, 
I fain would learn the new and holy song. 

And find at last, beneath Thy trees of healing, 
The life for which I long. 

[ ni ]